Supply challenges have utilities looking to conservation

Water and wastewater construction revenue in the U.S. appeared to shrink last year, as measured by reports from the ENR Top 400 Contractors. But new needs and supply approaches are creating opportunities for firms.

“We are seeing small projects come out to simply meet regulations, rather than large jobs to meet future expectations and growth,” says Blair Lavoie, president of MWH Constructors. Others see water-supply challenges continuing to play a major role in the type of projects that are needed. “The ongoing droughts in the western U.S. have raised awareness that our water … is a limited resource,” says Roy Epps, vice president of The Walsh Group. “This awareness is stimulating water conservation efforts and interest in water reuse. We now have more economical solutions to purify reclaimed water to levels far above what has traditionally been considered safe to drink.”

Walsh is nearing completion of a major project involving water reuse at the Terminal Island WRP Advanced Water Purification Facility, in Los Angeles. The expansion will increase total wastewater-treatment capacity to produce 12 mgd of high-quality water for groundwater replenishment and reuse. “The innovative facility will take wastewater that would have been discharged into the nearby harbor and clean it using advanced water-purification technology, including microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and an advanced oxidation process that disinfects contaminants without creating more pollution,” according to Epps.